My Father the Fly
By Honglin Zhu
My father turned into a fly on weekdays. Grandpa woke me up at seven in the morning, and Grandma cooked me breakfast. After I got ready, my mom came out of her bedroom, dressed yet still half asleep. I heard faint snoring seeping out of the door left ajar. She drove me to school. When asked why my father never drove me to school, Mom’s story was that he had to rest well to go to work later in the morning. But she could not fool me; I knew what had happened to my father.
When I came home in the afternoon on my grandpa’s bike, holding the fried chicken wing that he would always buy me, I could not find my father in any room. I retreated to my bedroom and pulled out a box of spare LEGO pieces and dumped them out on the floor. I wanted my father to play LEGOs with me, but Mom said he would not come back from work until after dinner. Another lie, I thought, as I glanced at a housefly resting on top of a 2x4 red block among the pile of varicolored pieces. Its red, compound eyes observed mine. It had black wings, as if wearing the black blazer my father had. With a paunchy abdominal segment, the fly seemed too heavy for his six hair-like legs to support. He rested quietly on the LEGO piece, sometimes brushing his protruding, straw-like mouth with two front legs. He did not fly away until I picked that piece up to assemble it.
At dinner, my grandma always cooked dishes I loved. The four of us sat in the dining room, and ate without my father, who had turned into a fly. Sometimes when Grandma cooked a favorite dish of mine, like fish fillet in hot chili oil or Zhajiang noodles, Mom would warn me to leave some for my father when he came back from work. But I knew that the fly my father[HZ1] was not a picky eater, and other dishes would feed him just the same. After dinner, I watched the news and other shows on TV with my grandparents in the living room. Around 8:30, our apartment door would open and close, the lights in the dining room would turn on, and a briefcase would appear on the dining table. I could not explain this mysterious series of events which my mom emerged from her room to witness, announcing that Father had returned home and asked me to greet him. I did not pay attention as the cartoon started on TV, shooing away the fly that buzzed behind my head. After I got ready for bed and my mother turned off my lights, said goodnight, and closed my door, the door would sometimes open again, and a low voice in the darkness would whisper another goodnight.
On weekends, my father turned back into a 38-year-old male. He sometimes took me to the movies, played golf with me, or drove me to my Saturday math club. We spent a lot of time on his car that smelled like cigarettes. When I asked why he turned into a fly on weekdays, he would answer that he did not, and that he left home because he had to work. I thought his metamorphosis probably embarrassed him, so I stopped asking. No one in my family would admit it, but now I know my father turned into a fly on weekdays to stay home with me.